Do People Become Angels After They Die?
If you’ve been to a funeral lately, or even looked at the obituaries in a newspaper, you may have noticed that it has become fairly popular to make some mention of the deceased person as having gone to heaven to become an angel—sometimes even a guardian angel! One obituary I was reading recently for a child had the family making the statement that this little child had now become their family’s personal guardian angel.
Hollywood has repeatedly used motion pictures to portray this belief over the years, and in recent years it has been popping up more and more with the Christian Church. But is there any biblical reason why we should believe that a person might become an angel?
Throughout the Scriptures, humans and angels are always distinctively separated. Whereas the creation of mankind is retold in the Bible, we really don’t know when the angels were created—but we do know they are different than human beings.
Below are some of the differences the Bible lists between humans and angels along with their corresponding Scripture references.
Humans have physical bodies. Angels do not.
“Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14 NIV)
While humans are corporeal, possessing a body of flesh and bone, the Bible tells us here that angels are “spirits.” There are certainly examples in the Scripture where angels have taken on human form, but they remain spirit-beings.
Note: This verse also tells us that angels are servants sent to minister to “those who will inherit salvation.”—in other words: human beings. This further distinguishes angels from humans.
2. Humans can die. Angels cannot.
“...and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:36 NIV)
In the passage above, Jesus refers to believers who are made alive in the resurrection as being “like the angels” since they now can no longer be touched by death. Jesus doesn’t say we will become angels—only that with respect to death, we will be like the angels.
Since angels are spirit-beings not possessing a body, they cannot experience a physical death—they are eternal. Human beings are also created to be eternal, but our physical bodies grow old, wear out and die. That part of us which is spirit remains alive.
3. Humans can be saved (forgiven of their sins and promised eternal life.) Angels cannot.
“For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.” (Hebrews 2:16 NIV)
When the God of the universe came to live on the earth, He was born as a human baby in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. He became a human because He came to represent humans—not angels. When He died on the cross He did not die for the sins of angels, but only human beings.
4. Humans who believe in Christ as their Savior can become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. These same blessings are not available to angels.
“It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.”
(Hebrews 2:5 NIV)
One of the most wonderful blessings that we find in the Scripture centers around the promises of God that are directed toward all who place their faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. These promises are far too many to list here, but suffice it to say none of these are given to angels.
More on Angels—
Angels are wonderful and somewhat mysterious creatures, created by God to serve His children and do His will. We are specifically commanded in the Scriptures not to worship angels.
Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!”
(Revelation 19: 9-10a NIV)
In Daniel chapters 10 and 12 there are three references to the angel Michael in which he is called a “prince.” It is also made clear that Michael serves in this role on behalf of the nation of Israel. Unfortunately that’s all we know, except that Michael, and most certainly other angels, are often engaged in battle against the powers of darkness (demons) who are angels who have turned away from God and now serve Satan. (We are told that hell was created for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:41)
Finally, Jesus told us that the angels would play a large role in the last days as they are sent out to gather God’s people from the four corners of the earth (Matthew 24:31). In addition, God’s angels will also gather together all those who have rejected God’s love so that they might stand before His justice (Matthew 13:41).
God’s angels are wonderful beings and they have important work to do in the plan of the Lord. But it is vitally important that we never confuse the function and ministry of angels with human beings.
Summary: It’s hard to say why people choose to believe their loved ones become angels after death, but whatever the reason, it can be said with clear and unquestioning sincerity that God has a much better and bigger plan for humans than merely becoming angels. He has invited us to actually become His beloved children, which He makes possible through His Son—Jesus Christ.
Please take time to read John chapter one sometime soon and pay particular attention to verse 12. In this single verse God offers a promise that is wonderful!